Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Stat Block - Adaru

3.5E's Monster Manual V

One of the interesting things about 4E from a monster perspective was that the monsters got better designed as later products were released. Monster Manual V was proof that 3.5E was very different. The need for system mastery - and the seeming absence of editors who had it - showed in the numerous errors in stat blocks but it wasn't just the numbers that were off: there was a distinct lack of creativity.

Turning to pages 20-22 you will find a new demon named the adaru. This is the picture:

The flavour text is great. I particularly love this part from under its ecology:
Adarus are treachery and deception given form. When a mortal speaks an untruth that has grave consequences, it is said that a new adaru is born, taking shape in the bowels of the Abyss.
You look at the picture, you read this description and you expect something that poses a risk to your loyalties and your integrity. Instead you get a boring monster with a bite attack that also has poison that damages your Constitution - not Wisdom, not Charisma but your Constitution. You could reskin it as a spider and nobody would notice any difference.

I was thinking today that I want to write my adventure set in the Mere of Dead Men that will be a homage (aka an outright rip-off) of at least two of the adventures from the Mere of Dead Men series that were published in five consecutive Dungeon magazines - isses 69-73. In particular, the adventure would draw inspiration from Dungeon 71's Dreadful Vestiges and Dungeon 73's Eye of Myrkul. More on that in another post.

Dreadful Vestiges included an NPC cleric of Cyric who was a corrupted cleric of Helm who happened to fall afoul of some incorporeal undead known as defilers which have only been officially published in Dungeon 71. These undead had several unique (in the literal sense of the word) abilities including a poison that could change an enemy's alignment to chaotic evil. I thought about creating 4E versions of the defilers but then I thought of the adaru and what they could be. And, as the cleric in Dreadful Vestiges has a summoned hezrou ally, perhaps another abyssal monster would be appropriate.

Here's the cleric and his hezrou ally from Dungeon 71:


Firstly, the stat block of the adaru in Monster Manual V includes all the movement modes shown here. I decided to use that as inspiration as I picture it operating by sneaking up on its victim, sinking its bite into the poor unfortunate and then skittering away with segmented steps ready to repeat the process on the next enemy it can find. After all, corrupted by the Abyss requires that the enemy be slain by the ongoing damage; there is no incentive, per se, for the adaru to keep using its corrupting bite unless the enemy shakes off the ongoing damage first.

Secondly, the monster is actually really simple to run. It bites, it scatters, it waits and it's a melee controller. It will definitely need allies to survive, and those allies will benefit from its fetid cloud.

Anyway, my version of Dreadful Vestiges will have the fallen cleric of Torm (as Helm is no longer around) whose apostasy was directly a result of an adaru. And, in a homage to the sample encounter presented in Monster Manual V, the adaru will be named Mal'tanx. (It seems that adaru can summon babau demons in 3.5E; I better stat up some babaus before I go much further - I daresay Mal'tanx will need their help!)

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